The Department of Labor may soon be able to garnish your wages without a court order.
A new study by Sam Batkins at the American Action Forum (AAF) explain's DOL's new rule. "Today, the Department of Labor (DOL) officially published a rule that allows it to garnish the wages of employees who owe the agency money 'without first obtaining a court order,'" explains Batkins. "Those are the words of the rule."
He notes that under this rule, DOL "could have the power to withhold up to 15 percent of an employee’s wages."
DOL's rule would enable the agency to garnish wages of any American with “unpaid loans," or even "overpayments or duplicate payments made to federal salary or benefit payment receipts.”
"Although there are provisions for financial hardship that might mitigate the garnishment, the agency notes that only after all amounts are paid, including 'interest, penalties, and administrative costs,' can individuals receive a notice that garnishment has ended," writes Batkins.
This would give DOL similar authority to that of the IRS, which doesn't have to obtain a court order to garnish wages.
The last time an agency tried to allow itself to garnish wages, it ended quickly. Batkins adds that in 2014, the "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the extraordinary step of publishing a direct final rule allowing the agency to garnish the wages of individuals who owed them debts or fines." However, following public outrage, they withdrew the rule.
Batkins notes a few questions raised by DOL's efforts. "Wage garnishment by the IRS might make sense, but non-tax debt to EPA and DOL? All of this without first appearing before a judge? Despite the agencies’ explanations, there are still countless questions about this intrusive new power."